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Rabbit has gas daily, stumped.

22 9:44:37


Thank you so much for being available to answer questions, it means so much to me!

I'm a member of a small, local rabbit rescue. I care for 6 rabbits. One of them, a 2 year-old neutered male mini-rex is having some trouble:

Patches has gotten gas every single day for the past 16 days. I treat him at least twice a day with simethicone, and either than that he's fine.  He eats great, poops, drinks, all is well. Except the daily gas. We tried eliminating every possible food-related cause, which did nothing.  
Even when he's acting happy and perky, which he usually is, his tummy always feels a little bloated, no matter how much simethicone I give him.

In the last 5 days or so his poops are slightly smaller than normal, and yesterday he had a tiny bit of diarrhea.

He has been to a rabbit-savvy vet, who said that one thing it could be is an intestinal infection. He prescribed flagyl, which did nothing.  So now, the vet thinks perhaps he has some odd food sitting in his tummy that won't digest that's mucking up his intestinal bacteria. So he's prescribing reglan, as well as treating for possible parasites, such as coccidia.

My questions are, can any harm be done by reglan? How long should he be on reglan? I saw some information about long-term use causing neurological damage. How long would it take for it to do that? Should reglan and parasite stuff be given simultaneously?

Do you have any other ideas what could be causing Patches to be constantly bloated?

Thank you again!!

ANSWER: Dear Bethany,

Reglan won't do any harm for this purpose, as long as there is not a true blockage.  You'd know it if there were, since he'd become very distressed and his abdomen distended and very hard.

Is there a possibility he ate something synthetic that's sitting in there and causing trouble?  How is he at eating hay?  Lots of fresh, wet greens can help hydrate desiccated intestinal contents and make them pass more easily.  Instructions for an enema can be found here:

and this can be very helpful not only in hydrating intestinal contents (you'd be surprised!) but also in stimulating more GI movement.  Ask your vet about this before trying it, especially if you are planning to do this yourself and need instruction.

It's also possible his GI tract is sluggish because of an unrelated health problem, and molar spurs are a very common trigger for this. Have his molars been checked recently for spurs?  A sensitive bunny can have problems from even relatively small ones that poke and cause discomfort.

Here's an overview that might be helpful:

also see:

I hope some of this helps.  But the treatments being done now are reasonable.  I hope he starts to feel better soon.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Dana,

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

Patches eats his hay great. I'm including a picture of him. As you can see, he looks like a cow, and he eats like one too! Throughout this whole thing Patches has never lost his appetite, and he has not lost a bit of weight. In fact, he's a little chubby.  :)

It has been about a year since his molars have been checked for spurs. If the current treatment does not work, I'll look into his teeth next.

If the Reglan works, how long should he be on it? How quickly should I expect the Reglan to clear his intestines, and Patches show sign of improvement?

Thank you again!

ANSWER: Dear Bethany,

Aww.  Patches looks a lot like my Pancho.   :)

Okay, quick question:  are his poops round and normal-shaped, like cocoa puffs?  Or are they often large, misshapen, and a bit rubbery?

If the latter, he may have a congenital condition that's contributing to his constant gassiness.

Our vets will often prescribe Reglan for about a week, and then taper it off (i.e., don't stop him cold turkey).  I hope that will do the trick for Patches.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

His poops are properly formed, round little cocoa puffs. The vet described his problems as "very weird", since he doesn't have any of the usual symptoms that would help us figure out what's wrong.

Patches has been on Reglan for 4 days with no sign of improvement yet.

Hi, Bethany

Well, if everything else checks out, I'm betting a dental problem causing pain.  That is an unbelievably common trigger for GI slowdown, and that can result in gas and other problems.

I have had *one* instance, a long time ago, of a bunny who kept getting gassy and bloated for no obvious reason.  One night she suffered a true bloat.  We could not save her, as we did not catch it until it was advanced.

So please keep an eye on your little guy to be sure he doesn't suffer a true blockage.  

If the stomach is not emptying properly because he ate something synthetic, or if he has a mass of fur causing intermittent blockage, you can help relieve the pressure of gas buildup by laying him on his LEFT side and gently massaging his tummy.  The small intestine takes a very sharp turn just distal to the pylorus, and if the stomach suffers a brief blockage, enough fluid can build up to pinch off that turn, and you can have a disaster on your hands.

By laying such a bun on the left side, you can relieve the pressure, as the stomach will slop downwards via gravity, usually releasing the pinched intestine, unless the stomach has swelled to dangerous proportions.  If that happens, only intubation within an hour can save the bunny's life.

I really don't think this is what's going on with your little guy, but it's good to be vigilant, just in case.  (i.e., I do not mean to panic you; just make you aware of this very RARE possibility.)

Sending healing vibes!